Questioning BMC notice, they say they will not allow even a single brick of makeshift Thackeray memorial to be removed

Even three weeks after death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, there has been no move to dismantle the makeshift memorial at Dadar’s Shivaji Park, where he was cremated.

Hundreds of Shiv Sainiks from Mumbai and Thane converged on Shivaji Park on Saturday in a bid to thwart any attempt by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) administration to dismantle the structure, and chanted slogans stating that they would not allow even a single brick to be removed from the structure.

Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said the issue was a matter of “people’s sentiments” and the government should consider their demands. “Any government or any law can’t disobey the people sentiments. If people wish to build a memorial for their beloved leader, neither the government nor the BMC can do anything against their will,” he said, echoing the Sainiks’ defiant rhetoric.

Last week, the BMC slapped notices on Mayor Sunil Prabhu (of the Shiv Sena) and Mr. Raut, urging the immediate removal of the structure at Shivaji Park, as it is a ‘no-development zone’.

The elaborate makeshift memorial, guarded zealously by the Sainiks, has become a political hot potato, with the Maharashtra government continuing to prove ineffectual against the Sena.

“We have deployed one company of the Riot Control Police and two companies of the State Reserve Police Force, along with the regular police bandobast. The situation is under control,” Dhananjay Kulkarni, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone V) told The Hindu.

Despite the notice explicitly warning the Sainiks of impending demolition unless the structure was removed voluntarily, neither the BMC nor the State government has taken any action. The BMC, however, said the onus of demolishing the structure was on the State government. “The State government is expected to take action on this issue as they, and not the BMC, had given permission for [Mr. Thackeray’s] cremation there… the BMC will only follow its orders,” said Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte.

Even the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority, which is the statutory authority to take action on violations of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011, has asked the BMC to submit a comprehensive report explaining the construction of the structure at Shivaji Park, which is categorised as CRZ-III.

Sena leaders have remained markedly ambiguous, with Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray keeping mum over demolition of the Shivaji Park structure. The BMC has also given notice to dismantle scores of illegal hoardings put up by Shiv Sainiks paying obeisance to their departed leader.